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I've Staked My Turf!


R. S. Martin
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My family is apparently still trying to deal with my deconvertion. From various members I got letters asking what I do believe (since I don't believe :Wendywhatever: ). That is totally wierd. I wrote a few statements about my beliefs in a letter and those statements upset the family boat. Now they are asking WHAT I believe??? You gotta be kidding.

 

I did not respond.

 

Then yesterday I got a plan for how to deal with this thing. There are two main issues:

 

Power.

 

Control.

 

Both of them are always in their favour. There is strength in numbers, you know.

 

I want them to know not to try and bait me anymore. If I tell them what I believe, it will be in a situation that is fair for me for a change. I've been at their mercy for fifty years. Mom used to say: Turn about is fair play. We'll turn this thing about.

 

Let them come into the city and talk to me face to face. This will make these country bumpkins feel awfully vulnerable and out of context then. I have felt vulnerable and out of context most of my life; it's only fair. And if I go through with this thing, it's going to be fair for a change.

 

There is only one of me. I will meet with only one person. This thing is going to be fair. If more than one person shows up I reserve the right to walk away without talking. It's my turf. I know my way around. They have to wait half an hour for a bus to deliver them. I can go into almost any business place and receive a warm welcome. They would feel too scared to go into a Kentucky Fried Chicken or Pizza Palace. And bars would naturally be off-limits.

 

One more thing. To be truly fair, they need to know exactly how negatively I see them, just as they always let me know how very negatively they see me. They never allow for discussion around their negative views of me. I will allow no discussion around my negative view of them. I just tell them their sins and tell them there will be no discussion. I mailed the proposal first thing this morning. I forbid phone calls. They have to use letters to arrange this thing IF they want to go through with it. It's set up so they will think more than twice before they go through with it.

 

I'm almost dizzy with relief. For the first time in my life I get to set the stage for a confrontation so that things are fair for me. I am finally in a position where I get to call the shots. Oh, and for it to be truly fair, they have to be willing to submit to my questions about their faith. If they don't answer my questions, I won't answer theirs.

This is a truce between enemies. I tell them that. They have never treated me as an equal and friend. I will no longer treat them as equals and friends. I tell them that.

 

I have no idea how things will come off. At times I feel scared like I always do with them. Other times I feel light-headed with euphoria.

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Thanks for your support, truth and Amethyst. I've been struggling with serious self-doubts, as I knew I would. That's why I mailed it first thing this morning while I was still in the mood.

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Hey, Ruby, congratulations on your empowerment. Sounds like you've really taken charge for yourself. I hope your family learns to respect you for it, even if they disagree.

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Hey Ruby, I like your tactical thinking. I think it will be interesting to hear if they take you up on your proposal. And if so, I wonder what you will tell them about what you do believe.

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I was scanning books yesterday--about as mindless a task as you can find. That gave me time to think and think I did. I had all these conversations in my head. I tried to imagine the things they might say or ask and how I would answer. Gotta be prepared for when/if the time comes for a show-down. I don't know, either, what I will tell them. Telling them I am a secular humanist would probably have no meaning for them. Not part of their vocabulary. When and if they hear the word humanism they might clue in. In their minds, humanism is just plain BAD. That is what xians seem to think. I can't get my head around that one. Honouring fellow humans with respect seems like such a Christian thing to do. They say it's worshipping humans. Well, coming out of strict religion, most of us here know the evils of "worshipping" any other entity except god. And if "respect" sounds to them like "worship" I am not sure there is much we can do. They will probably get the letter today or tomorrow. So it could be a while till I know their response. I'm using snail mail because they don't have computers and I don't think I can handle hearing a guilt-inducing voice over the telephone. I sure appreciate everyone's support here. Thank you!

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RubySera,

 

Way to take the high ground. By putting the impetus on them to visit you in your territory where you feel most comfortable, you have the advantage. Be careful, though, because from what I've read in this forum, families can be deviously clever in making you feel guilty and manipulating you. I'm not generalizing or saying your family can be like that, but just take everything they say with a grain of salt. Good luck

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Good plan, Ruby (and yes, nice icon :) )

 

I wish you the best, and do tell us how it goes. I know my time will come soon enough to reveal my own deconversion, and I dislike the thought of upsetting nice people for something as stupid as religious differences, yet it may be just that.

 

Who knows what those of us still in the closet can learn from you? :)

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Hey there RubytSera,

Well, it is always good to be prepared.. just try not to obsesse too much about it..this is coming from someone who does that way too much..

 

I think it is great what you are doing.. it has got to be hard to wait for the snail mail and then wait for them to respond via snail mail as well.

 

Best wishes.. keep us posted on what happens.

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RubySera,

 

Way to take the high ground. By putting the impetus on them to visit you in your territory where you feel most comfortable, you have the advantage. Be careful, though, because from what I've read in this forum, families can be deviously clever in making you feel guilty and manipulating you. I'm not generalizing or saying your family can be like that, but just take everything they say with a grain of salt. Good luck

 

My family is top-notch pro at doing the guilt-trip/emotional manipulation stuff. I like to think I'm becoming something of a pro at letting it roll off my back and I'm thinking maybe this is what they find so maddening. I may be good at letting it roll off my back *while I'm in the moment,* but afterward I feel upset and hurt. So there will probably be a report here of how it goes, if for no other reason than to vent my own feelings. It is so nice to know there are people who are interested and who care. But yeah, we've all either been through it or are facing it. Varokhar I'm thinking esp. of you.

 

What I find so extremely challenging, not to mention confusing, is that I know exactly how they feel and why they feel this way. They have solidly justifiable reasons for feeling the way they do--IF they refuse to take a really good hard look at what they believe. I know some of them have already been motivated to do some pretty deep thinking simply as a way to cope with my life decisions. I think that may be what threw some of them. They first had to get used to and work through the idea that I left their church for a much more "worldly" church. They probably were just becoming comfortable with that and now this!

 

What it always boils down to for me is that I have to live my life and let the chips fall where they will. It was my job to look after them when they were little but they are all adults now. They all have their own support networks and friends. They have each other. There is, was, and will always be, only one of me. No one ever seemed overly concerned how I felt.

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I'm glad you guys like my icon. I just picked it out of the avatar gallery Dave the webmaster has made available. That's also where I got the red flowers I'd had before. I noticed that lots of people change their avatars from time to time so I decided the flowers are fading; might be time for a new one. I liked this one right away. I posted it to see what it looks like and I liked it so it's still up.

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I'm glad you guys like my icon. I just picked it out of the avatar gallery Dave the webmaster has made available. That's also where I got the red flowers I'd had before. I noticed that lots of people change their avatars from time to time so I decided the flowers are fading; might be time for a new one. I liked this one right away. I posted it to see what it looks like and I liked it so it's still up.

 

 

I want to join in and say the avatar is neat. Also I wanted to say your post, the first one here was great to read, and share in. It sounds so very empowered. I hope however it goes that you continue to feel good about your choices.

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Hey Ruby!

 

I think it's time to cut them out of your life. They're just wanting too much control over you and they're asking you to justify your own life choices, when they have NO DAMN RIGHT to do that.

 

Just cut ties with them - they're evil and toxic.

 

Amelia

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Hey Ruby!

 

I think it's time to cut them out of your life. They're just wanting too much control over you and they're asking you to justify your own life choices, when they have NO DAMN RIGHT to do that.

 

Just cut ties with them - they're evil and toxic.

 

Amelia

 

Amelia, I appreciate your support. They are toxic alright but I am not prepared at this point in my life to label human beings as evil. That would be to affirm the existence of evil and I am not prepared to do that. I believe that all people do the best they can with what they've got at the moment.

 

This does not preclude learning. Like I say in the opening post, I staked my turf. I have never done that before. This is something new for them. If they truly love me, as they claim to do, they will figure out how to adjust their views of me accordingly. It will be quite a learning curve for them and I don't know if they are willing to go through with it. It's their choice.

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Hey RubySera,

 

Sorry!! I think I used the wrong word there (i.e. evil) and should have left it at toxic.

 

I don't think they're evil - just doing toxic things that's all.

 

But yeah...I got the impression they just weren't good for you, if you know what I mean.

 

You've got a great attitude by the way! ;) You have done the right thing by laying down the law with them so to speak. Hopefully this will get them thinking. Do keep us posted! Hope it all goes well!

 

Cheers,

Amelia :)

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UPDATE. It came in a very unexpected way. A former classmate called just now. Actually, it was more than an hour ago. I needed quite some time to get over it.

 

I'll start at the beginning. One or two years ago, this classmate did a project where she wanted to interview women in a male-dominated church where women aren't allowed to speak. My one sister was willing to talk and they have kept up the relationship. At the time, this classmate was training to be a counselor. She is now setting up a private business and also works in family mediation.

 

Apparently, my sister told her about my letter to her. Sister wanted classmate to talk to me. So she did. She informed me that my sister loved me very much and truly wanted a relationship and wanted to keep me in the family, and that she wanted to meet with me. She also pried quite a bit to know how I was handling things, how I was doing. I got the bright idea to tell her that I had a good support group online.

 

She wanted to know if it was for spiritual things and I assured her that it was. She wanted to know more specifically. Well! I already knew that she had grown up Baptist and was currently Pentecostal, and by the things she said I knew it would be quite a shock for her to know that I didn't believe in God "at all" anymore. In addtion, I'd gotten burned from telling people about this group. There was no way I was going to tell her the name of this group and its purpose. Finally I said it was a support group and that I was uncomfortable talking about it more. She said, "That's okay." And moved on to another topic.

 

As I think about it more, I wonder if perhaps my sister told her the name of the group and that I don't believe in God "at all" anymore, but that she (classmate) did not have permission to tell me that she knew this. I cannot think of any other reason that she would have pried so much. The same goes about belief in God. Why did she pry so much, and keep returning to the topic, if she did not want a certain confession from me? Maybe she just wanted a confession of faith for the sake of curiosity. I was not going to give it to a confirmed conservative Christian who was speaking to me on the behalf of my family.

 

My sister very obviously wanted this woman to talk to me and trusted her to do a good job of it. I was very noncommittal. She asked me what to convey back to my sister. I said she can tell her to respond as I indicated in my letter, that I was committed to meeting with her as stated. She asked permission to say another item. I forget what it was, but I felt very uncomfortable having a third party involved and said that. She was fine with that.

 

I know from class that she is one of those people who plays by the rules of the book. The rules of counseling say it's okay for people to indicate they are uncomfortable about something, and that the counselor politely and cheerfully backs off at that point.

 

Two issues:

 

1. My sister may misinterpret her hurt feelings about me as sincere love. And she may communicate such misinterpretted feelings to this classmate-turned-counselor. Classmate has a valid license but I don't trust the situation AT ALL.

 

2. She (classmate) also indicated (very politely and subtly) that I should not respond defensively to family memebers. This did not sink in until afterward. I felt so shook up from the conversation that I had to analyze what was going on and why I felt so very uncomfortable about the whole situation. It occurs to me that my sister might have told her that my letter was defensive.

 

I protest to that. I am setting boundaries. Very strict ones. And I will bode no fooling around with those boundaries anymore. If that comes across as defensive, so be it. I have a right to defend myself against emenies. Fighting in self-defense is ethically and morally correct in many people's book. I do not have to "feed myself to the lions" anymore.

 

Somehow, I don't want to taint classroom relationships with family problems. But it seems this is what has happened. I may have to take the stance of another person I once knew. That person tried to ensure that he was outside of the sphere of anyone who knew his family. In the future I may not want to put people in "my" world in contact with people in my family's world.

 

It seems so unfair. I had worked all week to get on top of this situaiton and to feel relaxed and competent about it. I was able to focus on my studies for a change. Now to get a call like this!

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*Hugs*

 

You have every right to set boundaries for yourself, including keeping family stuff out of school and not talking about what you don't want to talk about. I think that was a dirty trick on your sister's part, to have your former classmate call you like that. I'd say go with your gut instinct, they usually give us those types of signals for a good reason.

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Yay Ruby! I hope they take you up on your challenge and you get this resolved once and for all.

 

By the looks of things (what I just wrote above) they will take me up on it. As for getting it resolved "once and for all"--that remains to be seen. I will probably have to take a hard-liner stance that I find so difficult to do, esp. in the face of a person who is good at being so very, very nice. I have not closed my heart to her but I may have to force her to prove herself over time. That will not be easy in the short run but over the long haul I think it will be best for me. In the mean time they can live a Ruby-free life. I'll let you know how it goes.

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*Hugs*

 

You have every right to set boundaries for yourself, including keeping family stuff out of school and not talking about what you don't want to talk about. I think that was a dirty trick on your sister's part, to have your former classmate call you like that. I'd say go with your gut instinct, they usually give us those types of signals for a good reason.

 

Thanks, Amethyst! I asked how she got my phone number--whether I gave it to her back when we were in class together. She told me my sister gave it to her.

 

That violates confidence so far as I am concerned. My sister did not ask my permission. Thanks a lot, Amethyst. I'm thinking this through in light of what you said. According to these standards, the "love" this sister proclaims is selfish love and not true love at all. If she wants me for a sister she will have to learn a kind of love that does not hurt me so much.

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I know you and I may not see eye to eye on this but I thought I'd give it a go anyhow.

 

I know from class that she is one of those people who plays by the rules of the book. The rules of counseling say it's okay for people to indicate they are uncomfortable about something, and that the counselor politely and cheerfully backs off at that point.

This speaks well of this person. She may have volunteered to feel out the situation to see if it was beyond repair (after all you don't yet know how your family sees it). This does mean that they got your letter and are taking you seriously (even though they "nudged" your boundary a bit by having someone call you they did not call you themselves about this letter which seems a step in the right direction). This counselor also took her role seriously and backed off where appropriate instead of simply being a pawn for your sister. I would, based on what you've said, say she reported back that you're dead serious about what you wrote in that letter. A professional confirmation of your resolve, I would think, is really a good thing at this point...isn't it?

 

1. My sister may misinterpret her hurt feelings about me as sincere love. And she may communicate such misinterpretted feelings to this classmate-turned-counselor. Classmate has a valid license but I don't trust the situation AT ALL.

You're under no obligation to continue speaking with this person. You both had your say and unless they want to risk an ethics violation they won't bother you if you tell them to leave you alone (which it sounds like you did). If they came to you as a friend that's different but it appears they obeyed the rules as a counselor so they've made their role clear. What your sisters motives and what the counselors motives were are two entirely different things. If your sister was using this person then that speaks to the character of your sister not to that of the counselor who may have truly only wanted to help (and, again, seemed to act reasonable according to what you've said).

 

2. She (classmate) also indicated (very politely and subtly) that I should not respond defensively to family memebers. This did not sink in until afterward. I felt so shook up from the conversation that I had to analyze what was going on and why I felt so very uncomfortable about the whole situation. It occurs to me that my sister might have told her that my letter was defensive.

Normally, this is good advice. Keep in mind that she has probably gotten a lot of information from your family and so it's likely one-sided and highly edited. If, in addition to that, they've tied this forum to some "cult" like group then she could believe that you are being manipulated in some fashion. Turned away from your beliefs and your family. Being made to act in such an irrational fashion when you used to be so "different." Your assertiveness is unexpected and confusing to them and they need a reason. Perhaps your new "friends" and apostacy are those reasons?

 

I protest to that. I am setting boundaries. Very strict ones. And I will bode no fooling around with those boundaries anymore. If that comes across as defensive, so be it. I have a right to defend myself against emenies. Fighting in self-defense is ethically and morally correct in many people's book. I do not have to "feed myself to the lions" anymore.

By all means set boundaries. This is a must. One thing that I have learned from my own experience is this...you have time to think and reflect on each and every decision you make but those around you do not. To them these things seem sudden and rash. They are blind sided. Perhaps this letter you wrote was hours or weeks in coming in your mind but to them it was only minutes old in the reading. It just showed up one day and BAM they're hit with all these rules and regulations. Things you may have thought about for some time. So to you it's well thought out and reasonable and to them it's sudden and crazy. Give it a little time for the shock to wear off.

 

It seems so unfair. I had worked all week to get on top of this situaiton and to feel relaxed and competent about it. I was able to focus on my studies for a change. Now to get a call like this!

I think that this is the initial shock reaction from them. They wanted to know if you were serious and enlisted the help of a pro (who is also a friend). She did exactly what you needed and confirmed your position since it sounds like you stood fast with her as well. Now this all needs to sink in on their end. You were ready for this...just not the third party bit but that's okay. The ball is still in their court just like you planned from the start.

 

I think that you're doing great.

 

mwc

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I know from class that she is one of those people who plays by the rules of the book. The rules of counseling say it's okay for people to indicate they are uncomfortable about something, and that the counselor politely and cheerfully backs off at that point.

This speaks well of this person. She may have volunteered to feel out the situation to see if it was beyond repair (after all you don't yet know how your family sees it).

 

I think you're right. I don't think she had a right to do this without my permission. See below.

 

I would, based on what you've said, say she reported back that you're dead serious about what you wrote in that letter.
I never thought of it this way but you're probably right.

 

If your sister was using this person then that speaks to the character of your sister not to that of the counselor who may have truly only wanted to help (and, again, seemed to act reasonable according to what you've said).

 

As a professional counselor, she should not have accepted my telephone number without my permission. Professionally, she should have said, "I will gladly feel out the situation for you but I cannot do this unless she (Ruby) gives her permission." I don't know if that "rule" is "on the books," but I've had professionals respond to me like that in such a situation and I would have liked to be shown the same kind of respect.

 

Keep in mind that she has probably gotten a lot of information from your family and so it's likely one-sided and highly edited.

 

You've got a point.

 

If, in addition to that, they've tied this forum to some "cult" like group then she could believe that you are being manipulated in some fashion. Turned away from your beliefs and your family. Being made to act in such an irrational fashion when you used to be so "different." Your assertiveness is unexpected and confusing to them and they need a reason. Perhaps your new "friends" and apostacy are those reasons?

 

I explained in my letter that the reason is their (my sisters') own treatment of me. Not that they are likely to believe this.

 

you have time to think and reflect on each and every decision you make but those around you do not. To them these things seem sudden and rash. They are blind sided. Perhaps this letter you wrote was hours or weeks in coming in your mind but to them it was only minutes old in the reading. It just showed up one day and BAM they're hit with all these rules and regulations. Things you may have thought about for some time. So to you it's well thought out and reasonable and to them it's sudden and crazy.
Yes, this is the way they always react no matter what my ideas/decision regard. If they were at all observant, they would know by now (all of them are well over age 30 and therefore mature adults) that my ideas/decisions always come across as abrupt but that they (ideas/decisions) are in reality well-thought-out and normally work out just fine. If they would love me, they would have learned long ago to trust me in this. The one sister who does love me also trusts me in the things she cannot fathom. (She required a lot of time to come to terms with my deconversion but she did not apply any dirty tricks so far as I know.) I think I deserve similar respect from the others.

 

it sounds like you stood fast with her as well. Now this all needs to sink in on their end. You were ready for this...just not the third party bit but that's okay. The ball is still in their court just like you planned from the start.

 

I guess you're right. This "third party involvement" was quite a shock and, in my opinion, not called for.

 

And YES, the ball is still in their court. THEY will have to figure out what to do with it.

 

I think that you're doing great.

 

Thanks, so do I, now that I have had time to absorb your points.

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